Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Michael Jordan in 2020?

The reality is Michael Jordan is a legend. Was it because of the time he came into the league? Was it because of less athleticism? Was it because he created a brand no one else was creating? What would it be during this era?  Those are the questions that make me think after watching The Last Dance documentary.

Starting out I'm going to talk about the basketball player. As skilled as he was the three-point wasn't good. His career percentage is 33% which isn't the worst you could have but those numbers are also a little bit off because of the 3 years where the line was shorter and he shot really well. At the distance it is currently his average would actually be lower. The game currently is about 3 pointers and getting to the rim and he can only really do one of those things well so it would be interesting to see if his style could make it in a game that practically has no midrange. Sure there were athletes in Jordan's day but there are more athletic players today than there were in the 90s and a different breed of athletes. He was way more athletic than probably 80% of the players in the NBA compared to a mark of 50% now if I had to guess but either way drastically different kinds of athletes now. The theory he could score over 40 when the pace of play and points per game was higher in the 80s when he put up 37 sounds crazy. In the 90s his highest ppg was 32. If we base it on that knowledge, that he can score higher than everyone else from this era, everyone else would have to score lower in his day and I can't see that with the skill and athleticism of these players. He can't shoot the 3 so what changes for him to add 8 points to scoring each game?  Since the game is based on athleticism and 3 pointers how would he actually be able to fit into this era?

As skilled as Jordan was the popularity in the 90s is what really got him to the status he is at. Without Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson, the legacy of Michael Jordan is probably Russell Westbrook. A guy who puts up numbers but never wins and yet whenever they added the best coach ever and one of the most underrated players ever, the story of MJ changed. By the numbers and by everything you can make a case Scottie Pippen made MJ. Without Pippen, we don't remember MJ even in the top 5 all-time. Then after Pippen and Jackson got there and he started winning, he became a brand in an era that needed someone to pop off the screen. If you lived in the 90s, he was everywhere. His status as an icon isn't so much about basketball as it is the combination of the things that basketball gave him.

We get to the harder questions now. This is the era where social media and media, in general, is everywhere, and everyone even nonathletes has brands. MJ quit basketball twice to return both times in an era where there wasn't someone critiquing him every second. Just think about where we are in the world today, would they have accepted his bullying and gambling now? The problem is if he was the same person then in this era he would have been suspended a number of times. We live in a different world where bullying isn't tolerated and in reality, should never be tolerated. Social media and the media would have been talking bad about him every day. Headline after headline about if MJ could win without Scottie or Phil. Posts all over social media should he get help for his gambling problem. Articles wondering if he is going about leadership the right way by being a bully. Can you imagine the headlines before he won a championship? Do we think that pressure would get to him? We don't have the answer to that but we live in a different world than the 90s.  The pressures on today's athletes are like none before. Social media gives access to anyone with a voice to scrutinize anyone they want. I guess my question is a guy who quit basketball 3 times, could he make it through all that?

There is no denying MJ was a skilled player who in any era would be a top 10 player. I don't think it's far fetched to say he wouldn't be a top 5 player all time. MJ as skilled as he was, he came in at a perfect time to start a brand. He had the pieces thrown in his lap after being a failure without Phil and Pippen. Jordan made the best of the situation that was given to him and the era he lived in but in 2020 would he make it? I'm not so sure.

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